Kelly Clarkson has been a force in the more than a decade since she first became a star as the first winner of “American Idol.” Her career of course has sustained itself on the power of a continuous string of strong tracks and her beautiful voice (she could sing the phone book). She didn’t rest in 2013, releasing some new tracks, a greatest hits CD, and a Christmas album, “Wrapped in Red.”
Similar to The Shins, Clarkson’s original tracks have a decidedly old school vibe, such as “Underneath the Christmas Tree,” heard/seen above. The sax breakdown, the old school rhythms, and so on feel familiar yet are quite modern, and Clarkson characteristically gives the song her all.
“Wrapped in Red” continues in that pattern with the 60s rhythms and feel to the track. I think this rivals “Underneath” as the highlight of the album; the mid-tempo nature of “Wrapped” gives Clarkson a bit more room to breathe and soar.
When she heads into more classic tracks, it plays it relatively safe, which is fine for an artist like Clarkson, but to me it’s not really the big selling point of the album. That’s left for the originals, which add some new offerings to the holiday playlist. Greg Kurstin (he sure pops up a lot around here) helmed the album, and his production touches, particularly on the originals, shine nicely, continuing a solid track record for Clarkson. Fans of Clarkson, or of holiday music, will find a lot to like here.